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Locate. A new way to find lost subjects.

Today we’re pleased to launch a new Beta feature called Locate. Connect Rocket Locate allows Teams users to obtain the position of a mobile device with a simple text message exchange in a matter of seconds.Originally developed to help find lost subjects by ground search and rescue, Locate has also been tested by marine search and rescue groups and industry. In the weeks ahead, we expect other valuable use cases to come to light. If you have feedback for us, you can submit it here. Choose “I have feedback about a Beta feature” and let us know what you discovered or share your idea.

Locate is available in all Teams accounts starting today…we hope everyone will give it a try.

Read the documentation to get started.

Cheers,
– The Connect Rocket Team

New Duty Manager Enhancements

Emergency services is somewhat unique in that even when off duty some members still want to know what’s happening. At the same time, other members want to be left in peace when going off shift. We built Duty Manager specifically to meet this need.

In it’s initial release, Duty Manager provided simple but powerful capabilities, allowing Contacts to move ‘On’ and ‘Off Duty’ via a text message. When in an ‘Off Duty’ state Contacts receive no calls or messages from Connect Rocket and can remain uninterrupted. When ready to receive notifications again, a simple text message of ‘On Duty’ restores call and message delivery.

“Nobody wants the job of managing duty status for a large team. With Duty Manager, members can sort themselves out.”

Recently we launched an enhanced version of Duty Manager that makes an already great feature more powerful and convenient. Now you can move ‘Off Duty’ and schedule your return to an ‘On Duty’ state at a future date/time – all from a single text. Now you won’t forget to move back on duty at the right time.

Below are a few common scenarios that might be familiar. Leveraging Duty Manager’s enhanced natural language processing makes this easier than ever.

Stepping off shift for a few hours to attend a function at your child’s school?

Text “Off Duty for 3 hours” to your Connect Rocket phone number. Connect Rocket will respond letting you know that you’re ‘Off Duty” and confirming your return to duty date/time. In three hours, Connect Rocket will message you when you’re automatically placed back ‘On Duty’.

Coming off shift and not back on until your next one starts later in the week?

Text “Off Duty until Friday at 7AM” to your Connect Rocket phone number.

Connect Rocket will respond letting you know that you’re ‘Off Duty” and confirming your return to duty time. On Friday at 7AM local time, Connect Rocket will message you when you’re automatically placed back ‘On Duty’

 

Missing part of a 4-day work block due to a cold?

Text “Off Duty until tomorrow at 7AM” to your Connect Rocket phone number.

or perhaps you’re…

Taking an extended holiday leave?

Text “Off Duty until March 15, 2018 at 10AM” or “Off Duty until Mar 15 at 10AM” to your Connect Rocket phone number.

Yep. You guessed it. Duty Manager will take you off duty and send you a text when you move back on duty in the future.

Of course Account Administrators can continue to manage duty status via the application interface and will always retain ultimate control over who is on or off duty and manually moving on and off duty with two separate text messages still works the same as before.

Thanks for following along and a huge hat tip for all the input along the way. This enhancement was a direct result of your feedback and ideas.

Cheers,
– The Connect Rocket Team

Our fear of getting it wrong stops us from getting it right

When I started working in the fire service, things weren’t exactly progressive. Most departments weren’t being headed by true leaders and even fewer people were working to change the culture and overall approach of service delivery. Where once we operated under the banner of ‘150 years of tradition unimpeded by progress’, the the emergency services is now doing incredible things and the future looks bright.

Despite all of this recent advancement, there’s still room for some polish, particularly when it comes to the integration of technology into our organizations. Over the years we’ve had the good fortune to speak with responders from across the globe and we’ve seen the emergence of a common theme. We’re too focussed on making the wrong choices around technology. This focus on making mistakes isn’t only unhealthy but it’s also out of step with the quick adoption of new and innovative solutions by those in other fields.

As an industry, we need to realize that this mentality almost always leads to friction and ultimately slows our rate of progress. New initiatives never get off the ground and momentum stalls. Not only does this thinking slow down our own organization’s rate of advancement but it contributes to less innovation throughout our industry. If we’re not pushing the boundaries, we’re not pushing others and that doesn’t serve anyone well.

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To be at the forefront of technology means we’re going to make mistakes. The key is anticipating this and being flexible enough to quickly move past whatever issue might arise. As first responders, we need to better embrace technology, we need to incorporate the latest and greatest hardware and software into mission critical roles and we need to be OK with the possibility that it won’t always unfold perfectly.

Regardless of the problem you’re working to solve, you’ll almost always be better off with a solution that ‘mostly’ works vs. the one that you’re still ‘analyzing’. So stop focussing on what might go wrong and look instead at the huge potential upside of being on the bleeding edge. Your organization will be better for it and so will the citizens you’re tasked to protect.

The prevention responsibility

Anyone who has spent time responding to the emergencies of others has likely had their share of face palm moments. What were those people thinking? What a bunch of idiots! It’s easy to become jaded over time and to pass judgement on the actions of our customers. The reality however is one that quite often boils down to demographics. What a firefighter might view as basic fire safety in the home may be completely foreign to someone who was raised in a lower income home or in a part of the world that places less emphasis on fire safety education. For search and rescue groups the lack of preparedness on the part of a subject might boil down to economics or it could be a lack of exposure to the outdoors and an appreciation for the many hazards that await the unprepared backcountry visitor.

Compounding the problem, prevention programs haven’t evolved much over the years. Most still rely on stickers, badges, colouring books and dull brochures to achieve prevention goals – a public relations exercise at best but more like cheap entertainment. Others opt for finger waving and yelling to try and ‘entice’ the public into taking personal responsibility and some produce very grave adverts highlighting all of the awful things that might happen should you fail to take the steps needed to protect yourself. As any responder will attest, these programs aren’t working. They never have and never will. Call volume continues to escalate and the same failings show up over and over again in the lead up to disaster and emergency events.

In an ever connected world and faced with an audience that officially has a shorter attention span than a Goldfish (seriously) we have our work cut out for us. Making matters worse, traditional preparedness programs have typically separated operational and prevention responsibilities which leaves a very small number of people handling the bulk of the prevention tasks. Those in operational roles generally view prevention as a job for others, an attitude that needs to change if we’re going to make meaningful progress on the prevention front. As first responders, we all have a responsibility to tackle prevention.

So what are we to do? For starters, we need to use different tools, we need to deliver content that is engaging and optimized for the busy lives of our customers. Your audience is on Instagram and Snapchat and you need to be there as well. Your content needs to be original and engaging. Stats and dull safety messaging simply don’t work. Fair or not, you’re competing against the best the web has to offer and you need to find ways to captivate your audience and once you have their attention, you’d best have something worth sharing.

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Should comedy play a role? Why not? As responders, we constantly use humour to deal with the dark aspects of our job and it’s a natural way to start a conversation with an audience that might otherwise overlook the need to prepare for low probability, high consequence events. Can you gamify the building of disaster preparedness kits? Of course you can. Could you build an engaging app for kids with prevention messages integrated into game play? Yes you could. At the end of the day we need to borrow heavily from outside of our industry and remember that it’s our imagination that is the limiting factor.

For those of us in operational roles, we need to take ownership of the many prevention opportunities that we have in the course of a day. It’s ultimately our job to raise the consciousness of our customers. Next time you find yourself on a call rolling your eyes in the face of apparent stupidity take minute out of your day and remember that your customer didn’t plan on having this happen. Make a genuine effort to explain where they screwed up and provide them with the information needed to ensure they don’t become repeat customers. Better yet, turn them into a safety evangelist like North Shore Rescue did in 2012. We’ll all be better for it.

Fort McMurray Fire – Free Accounts

We’ve been on the front lines at many large interface fires with substantial structure loss and words can’t do justice to the level of devastation that can done in mere minutes. These types of events not only cause immediate property loss, risk life and limb but leave a mark on the landscape and on residents that can take years to recover from.

We know from experience that internal communication with various agencies and volunteers as well as communication with evacuees is critical in the days and weeks ahead. We also know that many traditional tools aren’t well suited to the task. For this reason and because it’s the neighbourly thing to do, we’re offering free Connect Rocket and Connect Rocket Community accounts to anyone in the fire affected area or in the path of this large and destructive wildfire.

There will be no charge to set-up or maintain the accounts for the duration of the incident. Account holders will pay only for usage, billed at our cost (much of which we expect can be recovered from the Provincial Government). At such time as the risk has passed and the communication burden has eased, the accounts can be decommissioned at no charge.

Our team is available to configure accounts immediately. If you’d like to explore this option for your community, please call us at 1 (888) 256-3009 for assistance.